I was born in Dublin and moved to England age five with my sister and mum and we lived in a council flat in Hackney on a tough estate. We were broke and on free school dinners and couldn’t afford school trips. I was delivering drugs to other estates in return for cigarettes. I honestly thought I was delivering letters until another gang stopped me and beat me up and mugged me of the drugs and then my gang beat me up for losing the drugs.
Aged eleven we moved to Potters Bar where I discovered my love of animals. I left school at sixteen with two O levels and soon realised my love of animals costs a fortune, so I spent the next five years studying accountancy at night school to qualify as an accountant.
When I was seventeen my mum sent me out to buy a stamp and on the way I looked in an estate agents window, saw a flat I liked that needed total renovation; I viewed it and put an offer in. I had saved a deposit but my solicitor had to stall the exchange and completion by three months until I turned eighteen and was legally allowed to buy it. Then I started buying Buy to Let investments and am lucky enough to have an impressive portfolio today. I try and rent to single parents to give their children stability, long-term tenancies with a good landlord.
I worked in investment banking for ten years. It was brilliant fun and I travelled the world working in New York, Tokyo and Sydney. I took a gap year and did a ski season, my RYA powerboat license and PADDI diving certificate in Australia.
I set up my first company, Lawlor Property Management, from my bedroom whilst still working in the bank until it was successful enough for me to leave. I started off managing two properties but this quickly expanded and now we manage dozens of properties in London, as well as relocating corporates for five major investment banks. My company donates to charities for the homeless and every Christmas I buy twelve seats at the Crisis Christmas table.
When I was thirty-five I was pregnant with twins but sadly my marriage failed and I was pregnant and alone and terrified. I remember deciding that if I’m going to be a single parent then I was going to be like Lady Diana or Liz Hurley and my situation made me work harder than ever. My boys are now thirteen and are a constant joy and inspiration to me. I think parenthood is the hardest job in the world and is like running a small economy only harder. Trading floors and running multiple businesses are a doddle compared to parenting. I met my second husband when the boys were only six months old and he remains my number one hero.
I genuinely adore all animals. You know how some people gasp at a Gucci bag or a fast car? Animals have the same effect on me. I set up the Lawlor Cat Hotel three years ago and I feel hugely privileged to work with animals and count my blessings every day. My motto is you can never have too many pets. At the last count I have three dogs, two horses, five chickens, two permanent cat residents, a very understanding patient husband and the joy of many more beautiful cats at the hotel who are treated like Kings and Queens. I really do thank my lucky stars to be running a business that I love and feels more like pleasure than business.
Jane’s book Archie & The Lawlor Cat Hotel is published by Clink Street, RRP £8.99 paperback, £3.99 ebook. You can find out more about Jane’s work at www.lawlorcathotel.co.uk